Wierd characters when accessing post_title and post_content direct

I have lots of people using a WP site with many different languages. It works fine out of th ebox, but something goes wrong when I SELECT the post_title and post_content columns from the database and echo them directly to the browser. It seems the WP_Query class is doing som sanitation in the background converting these special characters? But I can't for my life figure out how it does it? (the WP_Query class is quite a monster)

Any clues, so that I can retrieve post variables directly from the database without going via WP_Query? Thanks!